Substation design saves millions for industry

Substations are not usually noted for their appearance, however, the unique design of power and automation technology group ABB’s high-voltage substation earned it a coveted Design Award at the 2013 Australian International Design Awards.

The ABB 66kV Modular Substation, designed by Brisbane-based industrial designers CMD, was recognised for having the potential to save more than
$2 million for its users from reductions in loss of revenue due to facility down time; costs from personnel usually required to install similar products; and reduced need for service due to its high quality.

More than 250 entries were submitted in the awards across 15 categories, with the judging panel assessing ABB’s modular substation exceeded the five criteria for good design in the areas of form, function, quality, safety and sustainability; and met the criteria for design excellence and innovation.

In presenting the award, judges commended ABB for its innovative engineering and use of intelligent design that allows the substation to be built, assembled and tested off-site, then quickly dropped into place to enable efficient and safe connection to the power grid. This method eliminates civil works, installation, testing and commissioning at the customer’s location.

“For customers, this design invokes a feeling of excitement, offering infinite possibilities for cost effective installation in remote locations with minimum labour,” the jury commented.

ABB Australia country manager Axel Kuhr said recognition was particularly rewarding because the skid-mounted substation was designed to better serve industry needs.

“It can be pre-engineered and delivered in up to 16 weeks less than a comparable substation using a conventional, primarily site-based method,” he said.

“Importantly, commissioning a new substation in remote locations and finding the skilled resources to have it up and running can take months. With this in mind, we have successfully developed this ABB solution that can save customers time, cost and resources, while providing quality and serviceability.”

ABB’s skid-mounted 66kV module is part of the company’s substation portfolio, which serves as a key component in a power transmission and distribution network. The modular substation is used in transforming high voltage 66kV to lower usable voltages, and primarily offers great benefits to companies operating in the resources, industrial and utility sectors.

Based on a universal design, the ABB 66kV Module is an open-air-insulated substation in a compact form factor. It offers bay level control and protection, and incorporates a gantry, DC panel and PASS Unit. The PASS unit is a gas-insulated switchgear that combines a circuit breaker-disconnector-current transformer-voltage transformer-earth switch.

Founding chief executive officer of CMD Craig Mounsey said the self-contained unit was developed to be visually appealing because of its deployment and use in a wide variety of environments and landscapes.

“Visual appeal is rarely a design concern for substations, but through architecturally aesthetic design, we were able to increase the value of the unit while ensuring it is a recognisable ABB product that is safe, customisable for modular expansion while improving on manufacturability, transport, assembly and installation onsite,” he said.

“The design allows for the product to be expanded using a modular methodology in order to customise specific clients’ requests of optional extras. It is adaptable and can be used in many scenarios and configurations accommodating whatever needs may arise from clients.”

The skid design ensures the control and protection panel can operate in the harsh conditions, while providing crucial control and protection via the latest IEC61850-enabled intelligent electronic device (IED) installed in the panel. The visual appeal of the modular substation benefited from the professional design services provided by CMD, a leading design studio based in Brisbane.